Why Hire a Business Consultant/Coach

As a business consultant since 2002 I’ve come across many different types of businesses and more importantly a very diverse selection of business owners. I love working with business owners, there is something about entrepreneurs that is intriguing. It takes a special kind of person to start a business because most businesses fail within the first few years. What is even more intriguing is that many of these people do it over and over again until they make it, if ever.

Real Business Owners understand that in order to succeed they need to surround themselves with high quality individuals to help them work their business. Even then it is virtually impossible for people to be able to do everything or see everything. Business owners are very emotionally intertwined with their business and they typically don’t like to admit that something is wrong. That is where a consultant or coach comes in. A consultant will review the business operations, financials, records, documentation, etc to see where any deficiencies are and work to create a plan to fix them and get things running more smoothly so that the business owners and their staff can focus on the business at hand. As the consultant takes an objective look at the business they are able to provide real solutions to those problems that plague the client’s business.

For example, a few years ago I was working with a trucking company in a small town in Utah. The company was doing quite well with their sales revenues, posting about $1.7 million in sales in their second year of operations, but they were struggling to stay open. They invited me in to review their Quickbooks set up thinking that they were having a problem with tracking through their software. Once there I was able to take a look at everything they were doing. I developed a tracking system to determine where money was being wasted with in house truck repairs compared to outsourcing this service. I developed a tracking for individual employee expenses and developed a collections practices operations manual and standardized procedures and policies for collections. You see they had a good revenue base, but cash flow was suffering due to the fact that they had no standard procedure and policy for collecting from customers. In all, by the end of my second day there I had saved them over $250,000 annually and set them up to be able to collect on about $700,000 of their accounts receivables that was nearing over 160 days past due. That was almost $1 million in effective direct benefit from bringing in a consultant to help.

Sometimes business owners just need to bounce ideas off of someone who will be open to listening and at the same time be honest, and sometimes brutally honest. I have a friend who is starting up a business. When he first came up with the idea he came to me to see if I would assist him. I agreed to be his coach and now he calls me frequently with ideas and updates on research. As we talk I bring up all of the “what if” questions, which at times can be frustrating for him, but it makes him think and he comes back with a more solid plan when we speak again. Playing the “devil’s advocate” is sometimes all a coach will do, but the service is invaluable.

So in conclusion, the best reason why I would say that a business owner or entrepreneur would want to hire a consultant or coach is to help their business truly succeed. Of course I am biased here, but even I as a business coach and consultant hire consultants for my businesses.

Starting A Business (With Minimal Resources)

I have had several people tell me that they want to start a business but do not even know where to begin. Honestly, it can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t have any steps to follow. Thus, what I am going to share with you here can serve as guidelines for you.

Be sure that what you intend to do is your passion.

Don’t just jump into any business because it’s a fad, your friend made money out of it, you think it’s going to make money, or whatever reason other than it being your passion. So before you even think about setting up your own business, ask yourself the following questions: What do I love to do? What do I enjoy doing? What am I really good at? What am I most experienced in doing? From here you will know what your passion really is. And if the business you are thinking of setting up does not fall in this category, forget it. It is not going to work.

Work with what you got.

Do not even attempt to think of thousands or hundreds of thousands if all you have are hundreds. I am not talking about financial projections here but where you are to begin. If all you can spare is $500, then work on that. If all you have is a computer and phone, then work with what you have. Start with what you have, not with what you don’t have. Then work your way from there.

If you need top-of-the-line equipment, look for slightly used ones for sale instead of buying it brand new. Keep your costs low.

Invest wisely.

Whether you plan to borrow money or you have enough savings to start with, learn to invest wisely. Write down everything you need, and prioritize.

Your priorities should be your main business tool or equipment, as well as your promotional tools.

Find out what business laws you have in your city/state.
Some cities/states do not require you to register a business unless your gross yearly earning is over $12000. If this law applies to your location, and if you are not sure how much money you will be making on the first year, then don’t register your business yet. Test the waters first and work your way from there. As far as I know, if your business is not legally registered, you are only allowed to use your name and not any other name for the business.

One way to really start low is to experiment first. If you plan to venture into a food business, try cooking from home and sell your food to your neighbors and friends. If you want to do wedding planning, then let your friends know and do their wedding planning for them, for a very minimal cost. You can even do it for free. This is a good way of building up your credentials.

Get all your tools ready.
Other than the equipment, furniture, supplies, and other things you need for your business, the ‘tools’ that you need to prioritize are your “promotional tools”. These include your business card, website, flyers, business sign, letterheads, brochure, social media, etc. The kind and extent of promotional tools you need will depend on the type and size of business you are thinking of. The basic promotional tools for any type and size of business are business cards, website, brochures, flyers, and social media. Do not even attempt to start a business without these tools ready; otherwise you will be like a soldier in battle without his ammunition. Likewise, do not attempt to do all these yourself unless you have the skills and experience in doing so.

And don’t forget the most important tool of all: your business plan. This is your blueprint – where everything about your business lies. It is what you will need to apply for a loan, to apply for a grant, and to create your promotional tools.

Leave your promotional tools in the hands of those who are more equipped to do it. This is where I can be of help to you.

Promotion is the key.

Once you have all your promotional tools ready, it is going to be easier to promote your business. Have your business cards with you at all times and give it to anyone you meet. Your business card should already have your website and social media addresses. Flyers help a lot when you are promoting a product or a service that is better presented through visuals such as photography, weddings, flower arrangement, etc. Brochures are most effective if your target audience are groups of people such as church, organizations, corporations, etc.

Utilize every opportunity and connections you have. Keep promoting!

Build relationships.

Repeat business is the biggest indicator of a good business. And the only way people are going to refer you to others, or do business with you again, is if they are satisfied with what you provided them with. Customer satisfaction is not so much how good your product or service is but how good they felt about you and what you did for them. It is all about the relationship that you build with people.

Integrity counts the most.

Integrity is more than trust. It is the result of consistent trustworthiness. It means that you walk your talk… you deliver what you say you will do… you stay committed to your commitments. When you have integrity, customers will prefer you over your competitors. They will choose you because they know that they can rely on you, whatever happens.

Work harder than an employee.

Some people who are considering setting up their own business think that if they do this, they can relax and act like the big boss who seems to do nothing but walk around. The opposite holds true. Since you are your own boss when you have your own business, you really have to operate like a boss. And bosses are not just walking around. They are the ones who do almost all the thinking, problem solving, decision making, financing, networking, and all the more difficult and tedious mental tasks. Add to this working like the hardest working employee you can ever find. In short, you are the boss and employee at the same time, unless you plan to hire people under you.

Stay committed and consistent.

Once you start a business, you have to remain committed to it. It’s not an experiment that you can just start, and then end when it does not work in a few months. You can’t be dictated by your emotions. You have to get going no matter what happens. This brings us back to what I said in the beginning of this article — find out what your passion is.

9 Signs It Might Be Time To Sell Your Business

Most business owners ignore these… until it’s too late.

If you are like most business owners, you’ve occasionally found yourself wondering what your life would be like without the stress and hassles inherent to business ownership.

Perhaps you are facing personal challenges, such as divorce, a death in the family,or other issues that need your full attention.

Maybe you have health concerns that prevent you from engaging in your business as fully as you would like.

Or, it could just be that you are ready to try something new, go back to school, buy a home in the islands, or devote more time to a hobby or interest that you’ve had on the back burner for far too long.

Whatever reason you have for contemplating the sale of your successful business,you must understand that selling a business is a process for which you can fully prepare.

The first place to start in those preparations is to recognize some of the warning signs that let you know it is time to plan your exit.

  • Life changes are causing you to lose focus. It’s difficult enough to run a successful business without the added stress of unforeseen life events. Situations such as divorce, illness of a family member, or the need to care for elderly parents can upset any work/life balance you think you have achieved. If you feel overwhelmed and depleted trying to focus on both the business and family matters, you might seriously consider selling.

  • You have a hard time getting up in the morning and going to your workplace. Everyone in business experiences episodic burnout. However, if you have a regular pattern of looking for any excuse not to go to the office, it might be time to sell. Forcing yourself on a daily basis to engage with your business can have a negative impact on your financial, physical, and mental well-being. Your attitude can wind up costing you lots of money, time, and effort.

  • You spend a lot more time thinking about retirement than you do about your company. There’s no shame in doing this. Many of us look forward to a life without work. However, spending inordinate amounts of time watching the travel channels on television and visiting trip planning websites might point to your deep-down desire to get on with the rest of your life.

  • Your kids don’t want, or are incapable of running, your business. Even if your children or other family members have worked with you in the business for years, this doesn’t mean that they necessarily want to take it over when you leave. As badly as you may want the company to stay in the family, you can’t make assumptions. Junior may love working with customers at your pool company during the summer, but he might very well have bigger plans for his life. Even more painful to contemplate is the fact that your chosen successors might not be capable of running the business, even if they want to do so.

  • Everything has grown stale and you’ve run out of ideas to keep things moving. Years ago, when you started the business, creative thoughts spewed out of your brain with the speed and intensity of a high pressure hose. You had tons of ideas about how to differentiate your business and make your brand unforgettable. These days though, you feel stuck and the idea well is bone dry. Without improvements and innovations, your company’s growth will stagnate. If you can’t re-ignite the idea machine, it could very well mean that it is time to sell.

  • You need to pour tons of money into updating your business. If you are in a highly competitive niche that is continuously evolving, you might find that you’ve fallen behind and need to do an extensive (and expensive makeover) in order to stay profitable. Even if you are currently making a nice income, it might not be in your best interest to spend money to stay in business, especially if you aren’t having fun with it anymore.

  • You get an offer you’d be foolish to refuse. This happens more than you might think, even during a down economy. Someone out there has his or her eye on your business and they like what they see. Out of the blue, they make you an offer that is considerably more than current valuation. In most of these situations, it would be crazy not to sell.

  • Interest rates are lower than ever before. I am writing this article in 2014, a time when interest rates are historically low. There has never been a better time to leverage other peoples’ money. For investors, it makes sense to borrow like crazy and snatch up any and every appreciable asset they can, especially companies which, if managed properly, will generate nice returns.

  • You have an opportunity to participate in another venture. Most business owners, even those who are only marginally successful, are constantly approached by purveyors of new “business opportunities.” These can range from hyped-up multi-level marketing positions to Ponzi schemes to legitimate investment opportunities. I am sure you’ve probably been approached by more than your fair share of people pitching these kinds of things. However, once in a while a really good opportunity manages to come your way. Maybe it’s a chance to partner with another successful entrepreneur in your local area or it’s a start-up with amazing potential. When you find something like this and your gut feeling is that you want to be in on the action, then it might be time to sell your existing business and try something new.

It is never too soon to plan for the eventual sale of your business, especially if any of these warning signals sounds familiar to you.

As the starting point for planning your exit, seek out real business experts who, unlike the majority of business brokers, have actually bought and sold businesses.

Such experts will help you gain an understanding of the business selling cycle from A-Z and learn methods to avoid common pitfalls associated with the process.

I believe that the greatest legacy you can leave to your family is a company that you have converted into a money-creating machine, protected by design against erosive elements such as taxes and inflation that threaten to consume your wealth.

Consulting with experts enables you to do just that by showing you exactly how to design a custom plan that lets you to sell your business, get cash flow for life and pay no taxes.

Imagine how much peace of mind you would gain by incorporating this kind of proven business exit plan into your business- before you need it.

Successful business transitions don’t come about by accident. They are the result of painstaking planning under the guidance of seasoned business professionals who know how to get the job accomplished with outcomes more favorable both to sellers and buyers.

Savvy business owners realize that the complexities of selling a business are many and that it makes sense to partner with people who have been in the trenches.